The story opens in the spring of 1861. The Civil War has begun. Lincoln has called for 75,000 volunteers, while to regiments and batteries of the small regular army orders have been issued to hurry to Washington as fast as possible.
Colonel John C. Pemberton embarks his battery on the Fanny Harris, at Fort Ridgely on the Minnesota River. Hundreds of sullen Indians watch the troops leave, and visions of regaining their rich hunting grounds in the Minnesota valley arise in the minds of the starving savages, who have been brooding for several years over real and fancied wrongs.
Within a year of the departure of the soldiers, a furious Indian war sweeps over the young State of Minnesota, while on the Mississippi from Cairo to New Orleans Federal and Confederate fleets and armies battle for the control of the Great River. On this historical background move the characters of the story: Barker, the old trapper; Tatanka, the Sioux scout; Tim and Bill Ferguson, two Southern boys; and their doubtful friend, Cousin Hicks.
At Vicksburg, in the summer of 1863, we meet again the former Colonel John C. Pemberton, now a general in the Confederate army, stubbornly defending the besieged city against the Federal army under General Grant.
St. Paul, Minnesota,